Gardens of Kingston: Life Yard keeps Fleet Street alive

December 27, 2018
Romaine Allen, a member of Life Yard.
The colourful wall murals seen in Fleet Street are some of the best examples of street art.
The colourful wall murals seen in Fleet Street are some of the best examples of street art.
Romaine Allen of Life Yard goes on a walk in Fleet Street, downtown Kingston, with some young members of the community.

It is almost impossible to travel through Fleet Street in Parade Gardens and not stop to take a selfie beside the colourful wall murals, which is one of best examples of street art in this community.

The captivating artworks, that also wrap sections of the Holy Family Primary School, was partially done by children in the community, under the guidance Life Yard.

Life Yard is the 'art' of Fleet Street and an eco-village, created by a group of young Rastafarians, the majority of who hails from the community. When THE STAR visited the yard last week, one of the members, Romaine Allen, while giving the news team a tour of their organic farm, explained what Life Yard offers.

"Life Yard ensures that the young are provided with positive opportunities to experience their culture through art, agriculture, academics and edutainment," Allen said.

Bob Marley's One Drop a song from the album Survival echoed through the atmosphere as vegan meals were being prepared in the restaurant.

Another member of Life Yard, Danijah Taylor, neatly lays out an assortment of craft items on a table, while another prepares for a music session.




"We started our first project in 2014 with Paint Jamaica. We created that buzz as one of the first art mural district in Jamaica. Some of us are certified in our skill areas, but sometimes a job is still just for hand to mouth, so we find other means to sustain ourselves," Allen said.

Life Yard has also made it their duty to teach youngsters in the community various skills that can be used to earn a living. These include drumming, playing the piano, embroidery, sewing, jewellery making, and farming.

"As one can easily see with even the artwork, there is no vandalism or derogatory signs or middle finger, so that alone can show you how appreciative the community is of it. Even if a photo or video shoot comes in the area, a percentage of it still go back to the community," he said.

Last Saturday, Fleet Street came alive as entrepreneurship met live music. Dozens of children and adults flocked the yard as the children participated in various activities. Three of four children who entered the entrepreneurship competition were presented with plaques, while all four were given cash to start their small businesses. Young chicken farmer Conroy Shakespeare was also presented with the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award.

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